“I Trust Nothing”
Believe it or not, Makeup Manager and Scenic Artist Mollie Himes is a complete scaredy cat when it comes to haunted houses.
“I trust nothing,” says Himes with a laugh. “I cannot walk through ScareHouse without a person in front of me and a person behind me. I need the person in front of me to protect me and I don’t want anyone from behind to jump out.”
You would think after working at ScareHouse for more than 10 years that Himes would have gotten used to the scares, especially since she paints the faces of the individuals causing the fright, but even Dr. Frankenstein was afraid of his creation after all.
“Everybody makes fun. They say, ‘You paint our faces! You made us look like this!’ I say, I know, but look what I bring out of you whenever I do this to you. You guys are nice and sweet whenever I paint your faces, and then I turn you into these monsters.”
Himes used to work with a different type of monster—the child kind. Face painting was something she did to pay her way through college, so she could earn a degree in TV and video production from Robert Morris University. But when she answered ScareHouse’s Craigslist job ad in 2011, she was ready for a new challenge.
“It’s completely different going from dealing with kids to dealing with adults. Adults don’t move. They’re a lot more patient. It’s a completely different environment.”
Himes also notes how completely different the ScareHouse work environment was for her compared to other jobs.
“Everybody was just so friendly and so nice. It was like a family. Every time you’d go to work, it wasn’t like work. It was like going to hang out with your friends. But you got paid for it.”
Eventually, she moved up to a manager position and now gets to help in the creation process of the characters and what the makeup is going to look like. Some of her favorite creations include a promiscuous werewolf (“Trying to find the blend of how much werewolf versus sultry woman. . .do they have hair on their face?”) and the Night of the Living Dead 50th Anniversary showing at the Byham Theater (“We sent four zombies and we completely did them in grey scale—they looked like they were straight out of the movie”).
But she credits her team with making the atmosphere anything but frightening.
“Our artists are so dedicated. I haven’t had to hire a new person in years. Everyone wants to return. Every year they’re willing and ready. They enjoy the people, I enjoy them. It’s just a pleasant, enjoyable working environment.”
And no matter what they work on, she knows they have a major effect on giving audiences the creeps.
“Every makeup we end up doing is very impactful and makes an impression with people. If their makeup looks good, they act good, and that’s awesome to me.”
In the meantime, while ScareHouse fans enjoy being scared out of their wits, you can find Himes in the back listening to the Backstreet Boys and 2000s pop music while she paints faces, and if you want to know what mood she’s in, look closely at this part of the character’s face.
“People don’t realize how important eyebrows are. You could do a whole face, and eyebrows show so much expression. They are the least thought of part when makeup is done. I can make you look mean, sad, surprised, confused, sultry. You can do so much with just eyebrows. However, I’m feeling that day is how it’s gonna come out in your eyebrows.”